herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

One in six Irish children at risk of poverty

New research revealed child poverty levels. Picture posed.
New research revealed child poverty levels. Picture posed.
Childhood poverty

One in six children in Ireland are at risk of poverty, a new report has revealed.

The report from Social Justice Ireland, a Dublin-based think-tank and advocacy group, also warned that Europe's austerity policies have resulted in 7.3 million young people in the EU not being in employment, education or training.

It is the third in a series of yearly reports, and it focused on seven countries - Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Romania.

"One in six children in Ireland, over one in four children in Greece and almost one in three children in Romania are at risk of poverty," said Dr Sean Healy, director of Social Justice Ireland and one of the report's authors. "This is totally unacceptable in modern democratic societies."

Dr Healy urged the Government to ensure that children and their families are protected from economic shocks.

"Ireland has had a consistently high level of child poverty and it has failed to get to grips with it," he told the Herald.

He said priority has not been given in Ireland to reducing family poverty, and as a result of that children who are in those families have wound up at a higher risk of poverty than others in society.

Deprivation

"I think people would say you measure a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable, and children are among our most vulnerable people. The failure to deal with child poverty is a serious issue in Ireland," he said.

Dr Healy added that the figures show more than one in six young people in Ireland are not in employment, education or training.

"A quarter of young European job-seekers aged 15 to 24 can't find work," he said.

Social Justice Ireland compiled the report, entitled Poverty and Inequalities on the Rise - Just social models needed as the solution, using data provided by members of an organisation called Caritas Europa and Eurostat.

The study confirmed severe levels of deprivation in Greece, where almost 60pc of young people are jobless and child poverty is at 29pc.

Michelle Murphy, a research and policy analyst at Social Justice Ireland, said youth unemployment causes hardship for families and society as a whole.

The level of young people not in education, employment or training across Europe is extremely worrying, especially when the long-term "scarring effects" of early unemployment are considered, she said.

fdillon@herald.ie

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